24th October 2021
Over the last week the mainstream Regional TV News- services for North West England have reverted to type: There has been precious little coverage of Cumbria on BBC North West Tonight and virtually none on ITV Granada Reports: On both Regional News programmes Greater Manchester and Merseyside have featured very heavily. However, ITV News Border’s Lookaround has covered Cumbria very extensively; typically 55% of the coverage over the last week has been about Cumbria, seldom is there a night with less than 50% coverage of Cumbria; southern Scotland is in fact (relatively) short-changed – at least in Lookaround because Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders together cover a significantly greater geographical area than does Cumbria. ITV News Border also covers the far north and north-west of Northumberland in news- output. To be fair, ITV News Border does cater very well for southern Scotland because the Scottish version of ITV New Border transmitted from the Selkirk transmitter in the Scottish Borders provides programmes like Border Life and Representing Border each week. These programmes cater specially for southern Scottish viewers: Would that viewers in northern Lancashire, South Cumbria, and the Isle of Man get special opt-out programming from BBC1 North West or ITV1 Granada?!
Now, the main point about ITV1 News Border’s Lookaround is that not only does at least half of the news- output concern Cumbria, but a considerable proportion (typically one to two news- items in each main evening bulletin) also concerns South Cumbria alone, that is Kendal, the South Lakes, the Furness Peninsula, and southern Copeland. Yet, half of the viewers in this entire area of southern Cumbria get their ITV Regional news- programming from ITV1 Granada Reports. And ITV Granada Reports rarely covers Cumbria at all- and often the news-coverage comes no further north than Preston. BBC1 North West Tonight does cover Cumbria a bit more often, but even that programme will have three nights to a week without a mention of the county.
For viewers of Regional Television who live in places like Millom, Duddon Bridge or on the Furness Peninsula this means that the news-coverage from the main North West Regional TV News- services is often about places way to the south- with most of the coverage being about locations over two hours’ drive away. Yet there exists an ITV1 Regional News service that provides 50% coverage of the county and typically 15% coverage of South Cumbria- news that would be much more local and geographic- appropriate for viewers in those areas.
Back in the early 1980’s, Granada TV (as then was) provided Regional Television for all of South Cumbria- including places like Ambleside, Windermere and Sedbergh which today get ITV1 News Border. Following lobbying involving Cumbria County Council it was decided that those parts of South Cumbria be transferred to what was then Border Television’s remit. One of the reasons was to help make Border Television more financially viable (it was at risk of takeover from Granada Television in 1980), but it was also to ensure that viewers in the Central Lakes got more relevant and local news- about Cumbria.
However, viewers in places like Kirkby Lonsdale, Ulverston, Grange-over-Sands, Barrow-in-Furness and Millom were left with Granada Television who persuaded what was then the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) that because only a small percentage of folk from places like Ulverston and Dalton-in-Furness had visited Carlisle compared to 95% who had visited Manchester (out of necessity, i.e., to go to the airport) that viewers in those parts of South Cumbria should remain with Granada Television. The IBA was convinced that Granada Television should continue to provide Regional News for most South Cumbrians, there was no referendum or poll taken for local people to express a choice- and so to today where 100,000 potential Cumbrian viewers get the ITV Regional News service that is irrelevant to their day-to-day lives, not the ITV1 Regional News service that would be much more geographically appropriate.
If you live in the Millom or Duddon areas of south-west Cumbria, what happens in Manchester or Liverpool, or even as far north as Preston is of little relevance to you as all those places are well over an hour’s drive away. However, Kendal, Barrow-in-Furness, Workington and Whitehaven (which all feature prominently on ITV1 News Border’s Lookaround) are all within forty miles of Millom and Duddon Bridge. Yet Millom and Duddon Bridge by default get ITV1 Granada Reports, which is 80% Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire! Both Manchester and Liverpool are over two hours’ travel time from this part of south-west Cumbria; it is quicker to get to those cities from Carlisle in the north of Cumbria- where local viewers of BBC Regional Television came close to rioting when Carlisle received BBC Regional News from BBC North West Tonight in the late 1980’s!
Viewers in Millom and Duddon Bridge should be in uproar: There is an ITV1 Regional News service that would provide them with excellent coverage of Cumbria (including South Cumbria), but they don’t get it; they instead get ITV1 Granada Reports with 80% of the news-coverage from places over 100 miles and over two hours’ travelling time away!
If this concerns you it is time to write to- not email- both ITV1 Granada and ITV1 News Border to state that it is outrageous that your community is not in the ITV Region that provides excellent news-coverage of your county- and indeed of your local area. Tell the programmers that you would like your area transferred to the ITV1 Border transmission region as soon as possible!
To contact the Head of News for ITV1 Granada write to:
Lucy West, Head of News for ITV Granada Reports,
Granada Reports, Orange Tower, Media City UK, Salford Quays, SALFORD. M50 2HF.
To contact the Head of News for ITV1 News Border write to:
Michaela Byrne, Head of News for ITV1 Tyne Tees and Border,
ITV Tyne Tees & Border, The Watermark, GATESHEAD. Tyne and Wear. NE11 9SZ.
(Michaela Byrne has responsibility for both ITV1 Tyne Tees and ITV1 Border)
If you get a response back to the effect that the part of South Cumbria getting ITV1 Granada Reports is not going to be moved, and that there won’t even be efforts to improve coverage of Cumbria in news- programming on ITV1 Granada Reports then you write to your Member of Parliament. If you live in the south of the Copeland constituency your Member of Parliament and the address to write to her at is:
The Right. Hon. Lady Trudy Harrison
Member of Parliament for Copeland
House of Commons
Houses of Parliament
If you live in Barrow or the Furness Peninsula, your local Member of Parliament is the Right Hon. Sir Simon Fell, Member of Parliament for Barrow and Furness: Postal address as above.
It is best to write if you have an issue with your “local” TV that is not really a laughing matter: E-mails get intercepted by Spam filters and Secretaries, the sheer volume of them means they never get noticed. A first-class stamp is just 85 pence and for that you could make a significant change to Regional Television in South Cumbria. Mark your letter as URGENT. Get your local friends to write in to ITV1 Granada and ITV1 News Border to request a transfer to ITV1 News Border (with much more coverage of Cumbria), then if the replies are not positive to write to the local MP.